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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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130                               LIFE   OF
the hitherto accepted ones; he developed those facts
with skilful application of the rich store of experience
he had had the opportunity of collecting in. two  dif-
ferent quarters of the globe.    When he compared the
European remarkably warm winter temperature with
that  of Asia or America in   the   same  latitude, he
could no longer, from his experience, content himself
with the already-accepted explanation of the unusual
European warmth ; it had hitherto only been custo-
mary to search for the causes of the coldness in Asia
and America, without at tlie same time considering
the warmth,  of Europe, and looking  upon  it  a« an
anomaly.    Humbolclt perfectly enlightened science on
this point;   he perceived the   reason   of the   winter
warmth, of Europe to lie not only in the general form
of this quarter of the world, but also in its position
beside a large, hot Asiatic zone of continent,, which is
much more heated by the constant influence of the
sun's  rays  than  the  mobile  and self-cooling  ocean
which surrounds the other quarters, and which sends
its rising warm atmosphere over the plains of Europe,,
which have a warm winter.    A still more important
cause of heat he finds in the current of the ocean,
called the gulf current, because this current perpetu-
ally drives the heated waters of the American torrid
zone to the north-east., and its warm exhalations float
particularly across the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland,
and   Scandinavia.    Therefore, the   west   a,nd   south-
west winds, moving in the same direction with this
warm ocean current, blow over the northern part of
Europe  as warm currents  of air impregnated   with
warm moisture by the exhalations of the sea ; they
modify the severity of winter., but as they discharge
their warm moisture, they cool more and more, and
reach the Asiatic plains   as  dry  cold   winds.     The
west wind, therefore, which brings us clamp warmth,
brings dry coldness to the inhabitants of the Asiatic
plains, and while Western Europe has an insular coast
•climate,   Eastern   Europe   has   more   a   continental
Climate, with regularly opposed warmth of summer